For the past couple of weeks, anxiety has been sneakily and subtly creeping back in my life. It started out like before: a distinct feeling of being overwhelmed. I was in a public place, and all of a sudden, I had a heightened sense of awareness of what was going on around me. Every sight, every sound, every tremor was brighter, louder, and shakier than I previously knew it to be. Then my throat felt funny; like it was getting increasingly hard to swallow. I woke up in the middle of the night for absolutely no reason, and needed the television to lull me back to sleep. I had to take deep breaths more and more just to feel like I was getting the tiniest puff of air in my lungs.
Tasks take longer.
Responsibilities are paralyzing.
Motivations are muted.
I made an appointment with my doctor to get my thyroid checked. When my anxiety ramps up, I am usually convinced my symptoms are due to some minor physical ailment like, maybe, end stage cancer? I had some tests run (which thankfully all came back normal). I had a talk with my doctor about what has been going on. She listened to my concerns. She took me seriously (which I really appreciate). She wondered if maybe allergies were to blame for my throat feeling tight? I guess my tonsils looked a little enlarged. I humored her that maybe it was allergies after all. That maybe it was just enlarged tonsils. But we both knew that it was probably not allergies or enlarged tonsils.
I am dealing with a relapse of anxiety.
I cannot pinpoint exactly what is causing the relapse. If only it were that easy?! Life is busy right now, but no busier than it was two months ago or two months before that. Perhaps it is residual stress that has been building, and it is just manifesting itself now? I have no clue.
In a moment of trying to "fix" his freaked out wife, L asked me if I wanted to go back on Paxil. He got a firm "no" in response. For now, I will not go back on medication unless there are literally no options left. If you want to know why, read my posts about Paxil withdrawals here and here.
I have been looking into cognitive behavioral therapy. Therapy has always been on the table, but I have yet to actually make the call and see someone. I don't know why. Maybe I'm skeptical? Scared?
When it comes to the deep breathing, the meditation, the yoga, and all the other "clear your mind" techniques, I have found that they are only temporary fixes. Sometimes they don't even make a dent in my anxiety. At the end of the day, I am stuck with me. To help my anxiety, I have to go back to the basics: my thought patterns.
I have a hard time letting go. This pertains to most aspects of my life. I hold on, and hold on...and hold on some more. I am also extremely hard on myself. It is not uncommon for me to beat myself over things that have long been said and done or to worry immensely about events that have yet to happen.
I am remembering to let go, and not be so hard on myself. I am letting others in, and asking for help. I am remembering that I deserve a pat on the back every now and then. I am doing nice things for myself on occasion. I am remembering life isn't that hard nor is it that dramatic. My anxiety makes everything much harder and more dramatic than it needs to be. I am working on remaining in the present, and not focusing on the past or the future.
The seemingly simple act of changing my thought patterns has been doing a pretty decent job of combating my anxiety. I am still fighting an uphill battle, but I am trying to be as proactive as possible and am working to fix this latest relapse before it gets out of hand. I am determined not to fall down the anxiety rabbit hole ever again.
Anyone out there dealt with anxiety or anxiety relapses? How do you cope?